excerpt below. Full article at CBC News Ottawa 'discriminates' in same-sex pension payments: court Last Updated: Thursday, March 1, 2007 | 11:25 AM ET The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that denying Canada Pension Plan benefits to some surviving partners of same-sex relationships is discriminatory and unconstitutional under the equality provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The ruling was in response to a class action challenge to Ottawa's policy of denying same-sex survivors' benefits to people whose partners died before 1998. That date was set when Parliament passed legislation in 2000 that broadened benefit rights for gay couples. The petitioners had also been seeking retroactive payment of all benefits not paid, but the Supreme Court ruled against this, saying surviving partners from gay unions were entitled to 12 months of benefits after the death of a same-sex spouse but no more. The ruling said there was no evidence that Ottawa was acting in bad faith by denying benefits to some surviving members of same-sex relationships. It also noted granting retroactive benefits could impose undue financial burdens on the Canada Pension Plan and encroach upon the rights of Parliament to pass legislation and set limits on government payments. [...] See also related article in The Toronto Star Partial win on same-sex benefits Some parity in qualifying for pension survival rights were announced today in Canada after a long legal challenge made its way through the system. Here in Canada we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms since 1982 that has been useful as a mechanism for pursuing equality rights. It doesn't always work well, and can anger some people, because the courts sometimes, via rulings, determine standards on social issues that those conservative folks prefer to be solely the purview of the legislature. Legal challenges are many. Some feel that the legal challenges using the Charter can "thwart" representational democracy because minorities can go around the majority's opinion. Appointing judges becomes important. There are some contentious issues that politicians are actually relieved to allow the courts to decide, letting them off the hot seat, so to speak. The Liberal Party has been in power more frequently than any other, and therefore has had the opportunity to appoint more judges, yet the appointees are generally admired and respected. The now extinct Progressive Conservative Party (odd name huh?) under Brian Mulroney also appointed very respected judges. The current minority Harper government is conservative and has not yet made appointments at a top level. Question What are the mechanisms for ensuring that equality rights and the respective laws are applied fairly in other countries?